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Yield

Prequels seem to be all the rage at the moment. HBO's House of the Dragon is showing us more of the 'history' leading to the events in Game of Thrones, and, less successfully, Amazon have been attempting to recreate the events in Middle Earth that gave rise to the Lord of the Rings. There's no reason why board game publishers shouldn't also get in on the act, and so BFF Games are giving us Yield. In setting, at least, it's a prequel to their successful game Hidden Leaders, which we featured three years ago on Board's Eye View. The game is designed by Andreas MüllerMarkus Müller and Raphael Wegmayr, with art by Satoshi Matsuura and Luigi Sampieri Rodriguez.



We're told that Yield is set a surprisingly precise 43 years prior to Hidden Leaders. Its similar fantasy kingdom setting doesn't mean this is more of the same, however. On the contrary, Yield plays very differently. Whereas Hidden Leaders was a deduction game and tug-of-war between competing factions, Yield is more akin to a war game where the 2-5 players are competing leaders in command of armies on a board that's tailored for each player count. It's a game where players are battling each other and, ultimately, fighting for control of fortresses, which are what determine victory at the end of three rounds of play.


The leaders in Yield each have a choice of two asymmetric abilities. They each control three armies (four for the king, if that's the asymmetric ability you choose for that leader) and, at the start of the game, players use the dials for each army to secretly allocate their 12 points of strength. This means that no-one knows the actual strength of an enemy army until they're engaged in battle. As a consequence, the early manoeuvering in the game feels a little like Stratego (Hasbro/Jumbo) but once an army's strength has been revealed, players will be able to make deductions about the strengths of that player's other armies...


Actions in Yield are card driven and players also have a hand of battle cards which can be played to temporarily add to an army's strength in battle, much like the combat cards in Scythe (Stonemaier Games). These are situational, however, in that they can only be used for their full (3-6) face value in matching terrain; tho' in extremis you can play a battle card face down for a strength of 1 in any terrain. Again there's a deduction metagame within a game in Yield because players are dealt 10 battle cards at the start of play from which they are required to discard three face up. Some players may simply discard their three lowest value cards but if, for example, I discard three Wetlands cards opponents might suspect that I plan to focus my action on Forest and Town locations. Maybe tho' that's exactly what I want them to think...



The three rounds of Yield represent years and each is made up of four seasons (turns). Players have a hand of six cards, and each turn you choose one to play in order to take the indicated actions. Players select their cards simultaneously but they play them face down and the cards are revealed in clockwise order. You have the option of not flipping your card and instead sacrificing it to draw more battle cards. If your turn order is later than others, this is something you might choose to do once you've seen the actions others have chosen. One of the six cards everyone has is a card whose action allows you to duplicate any other card. There's a cost to this (it reduces the strength, and so end-game points score, for one of your fortresses) but it's remarkably liberating to be able to duplicate any other action card.


After everyone's four action cards have been played, battles take place between enemy armies in adjacent locations. This can result in some fascinating multi-player battles; indeed, at higher player counts you could find your army unintentionally involved in a battle that's primarily between two other combatants. But you can, of course, Yield: that is, after all, the name of the game...


At the end of the game it's the fortresses that determine the winner, and every time a fortress changes hands a control token is added on top. This doesn't just denote ownership: the scoring value of each fortress is the number of tokens in the stack. You can as an action upgrade a fortress you control, adding a token and so adding to its points value, but, be warned, that makes your fortress an all-the-more tempting target...


Yield delivers an easy-to-play abstracted fantasy war game while incorporating a satisfying mix of deduction and card management. And it plays quickly: most of our plays at Board's Eye View have taken around an hour. The game is due to hit Kickstarter shortly. Check it out at www.kickstarter.com/projects/bffgames/yield-battle-for-oshra.


(Review by Selwyn Ward)


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